Swimming 2.6km in the cold ocean water, navigating around rocks and dodging jellyfish is about as far removed from doing laps at the local pool as it gets.
But none of the brave swimmers who took on the main "I'm Going Long" race in Saturday's Sand to Surf were complaining.
They enthusiastically took on the challenge of swimming around Motuotau and Moturiki Islands before the morning tide and an enthusiastic crowd helped bring them home to the beach finish.
Gisborne teenager Matt Scott, 18, led from the start and hit the beach opposite Mt Drury in 30m 27s, nearly a minute, or 70m, ahead of 49-year-old Brett Foster from Auckland in second with Rotorua teen David Boles third.
Scott is regarded as one of the rising stars of New Zealand swimming and is expected to make a splash at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
"I have done one of these before at the Mount and I wasn't really expecting anything big," Scott said.
"I have recently moved from Gisborne to the High Performance Centre in Auckland and have had a massive week. They said the only way I could get this morning's training session off was if I win this. I felt really good.
"Navigating is not too hard as the buoys are so big and so bright. Between the two islands is quite choppy and that gets in the way a bit and I swallowed a bit of water.
"Hopefully I can win a few more. We will have to see what happens throughout the series."
While the young guns dominated the top placings, veteran Foster caused a stir by rolling back the years to show the speed that saw him crowned the inaugural Sand to Surf winner back in 2004.
"I have a surf background and I like coming to the Mount," he said.
"I stuck with (Scott) going out through the breakers and it was nice having a little bit of surf. It was super clear out there which was beautiful. I managed to find the winner's feet there for a bit and then he got away from me around the back of the island.
"There were a few jellyfish and I looked up at one point as I heard a whole lot of splashes which gave me a hell of a fright. It was a couple of birds, not sharks thankfully."
In the women's race, Charlotte Webby won her third straight title in a smart time of 31m 57s with just the three fastest male swimmers ahead of her.
"It was a bit rough out there and a bit cold but I'm pretty happy. I didn't see too many boys in front of me but I just really wanted to go out there and race," Webby said.
"I haven't raced in a while so just build some confidence back up.
"I like the Mount. It is a great place to swim and around the islands is pretty exciting. The sea is really clear. I am fortunate not to get stuck on the rocks yet and obviously if I swam into them I would have been a different story, but I have been pretty lucky."
Results: Click HERE